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KEVIN SPACEY ON HICKENLOOPER, ‘CASINO JACK,’ UPCOMING WORK

Here’s my interview with Kevin Spacey, who was at Planet Hollywood Resort for the premiere Wednesday of "Casino Jack," which is based on disgraced super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

It was a rough day for Spacey. He had to miss the memorial for "Casino Jack" director George Hickenlooper, who died October 29 at the Denver Film Festival.

But, said Spacey, "I know in my heart of hearts George would much rather have me out here taking about this film than in Los Angeles talking about him.

"I can tell you, working with him, knowing him, having him as a friend, the enthusiasm in which he made this film, his extraordinary fascination and love of the anti-hero.

"If you look at all the films he made, he was really drawn to, whether it was filmmaker or drug addicts or murders or Washington lobbyists, he always found something in all his characters that he explored that was remarkably complex. And he had a real interest in the complexities and humanity of people who even make bad decisions and do bad things.

"I was fortunate to have gone to St. Louis for what was and should have been his triumphant return home at the St. Louis Film Festival. Instead it turned into a tribute and I was so delighted to hear all these stories from his high school drama teacher and his friends and colleagues because it absolutely showed me that George had no changed from the time he was a high school student with the Super 8 camera in his hands.

"George had a motto that I believe he lived by: never ask, just apologize later and that certainly held him in great stead as an independent filmmaker. The number of shots he stole, the number of things he did that he shouldn’t have done for the kind of guerrilla sensibility it takes to be that kind of filmmaker. it was a very funny and very moving night. He would have been very pleased that we all ended up, all of his friends — Spencer Garrett who plays Tom DeLay in the film — who came to St. Louis as well, we all ended up drunk bowling about at 2:30 in the morning. I turned to my friend Spencer and said George would so happy that we are here in St. Louis bowling in his honor."

Hickenlooper, he said, "was very interested interested in exposing what happens when power and money invade our political system and how that in many ways dampens people’s enthusiasm for public service. George always had this thing he used to say, "I don’t wanna make a (expletive) boring movie about Washington. I wanna a make (expletive) ‘Goodfellas’ in D.C.’"

Spacey’s next movie, which premieres at Sundance, was made last summer about the collapse of the banking industry, a fictionalized movie called ‘Margin Call’ with Jeremy Irons, Paul Bettany, Demi Moore, Simon Baker and Zach Quinto.

"It’s as different a character as you can play from Jack Abramoff. I sorta play the moral center. So that will be the next film that will be out. Other than that I’m still at the Old Vick in London, still doing theater, and I fly back there because Tuesday night we open the great French farce, ‘A Flea in Her Ear’ which stars a wonderful British actor named Tom Hollander and directed by Richard Eyre, who used to used to run the National Theatre."

The Old Vick, said Spacey, "is doing very well and I’ll be back up on stage myself next June as Richard III, with Sam Mendes directing and it will be the first time Sam and I have come back together since ‘American Beauty.’ I asked what direction he’d like to go in future roles.

"I just want to do more comedies. I always bring a level of comedy to the work I do and I do alot of work in comedic in theater but somehow people always think that I’m the villain or the bad guy. After a while, it’s boring. SO i hope what people will see tonight is some degree of the kind of humor and comedy that I love to do. Abramoff was a very funny figure as it turns out and far more interesting than you would think when you hear of a Washington lobbyist. I just want to do more comedies. I did one for Warner Brothers called ‘Horrible Bosses’ which I play Jason Bateman’s horrible boss. It was a lot of fun."

— NORM CLARKE, Vegas Confidential

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